Plan your SharePoint site

Plan your SharePoint site

When planning a SharePoint site, site owners should organize content to help users find the information they need. This site strategy makes it easier for site owners to maintain and manage and for users to navigate the site.

Site planning essentials

Planning a new SharePoint site can be easier if site owners first answer some questions about what kind of site is needed, who will use it, and how they will use it. A good example of some questions to ask are:

  • What type of site is needed?

  • Who will use the site?

  • What will the site look like?

  • Who needs to access the site?

  • How will employees, clients and customers, and groups use the site?

  • Who will maintain the site?

Site purpose

One of the most important parts of planning a SharePoint site is to define its purpose. In other words, what type of site do you need? Answering this question will quickly get you started on the path to creating a great SharePoint site. For example, if you need to share information, news, tools, and solutions with dozens or hundreds of people, a communication site should work for you. SharePoint communication sites have a small number of authors and contributors that communicate to a larger audience. Also, communication sites support the same scenarios as traditional publishing sites. See What is a SharePoint communication site? for details about what this site is and what it looks like.

Another example, is if you need to connect a group or team to content, projects, information, and apps, a team site should work for you. Microsoft Teams is the recommended tool for team collaboration and each Team is connected to a team site. SharePoint team sites focus on collaboration where most users and members are authors and contributors on a project or group. Team sites let users quickly find what they need and use to make decisions, learn what's going on, access tools, and collaborate with teammates, coworkers, and partners on projects. For more information about what this site does and how to use it, see What is a SharePoint team site?

The modern SharePoint experience provides two templates to create new sites; communication site and team site.

Choose a site type in SharePoint Online

While creating your site, you may also need to change regional settings for the site, according to where and who your audience is. For information, see Change regional settings for a site. You can use the Multiple Language User Interface (MUI) feature to let your users change the display language for a site or create sites in different languages. For more information, see Choose the languages you want to make available for a site’s user interface.

SharePoint hub sites

In the modern SharePoint experience we recommend that you create new sites for each workload in your company instead of creating subsites. Rather than creating subsites, the modern SharePoint sites can be associated with related sites and connected to a SharePoint hub site. The hub provides a flat structure instead that is easier to maintain and navigate. Using hubs removes the inflexible hierarchies that site collections and subsites created. This makes it easier for site owners to move sites from one hub site to another when processes and projects change. Moving a modern site that is connected to one hub site to another is easier than it used to be when the site collection and subsite hierarchy was used.

Hubs connect and help organize collections of related team sites and communication sites together in your intranet. An important solution for modern intranets using SharePoint is that each unit of work should get a separate site. Each communication site and Office 365 group-connected team site is created as site collections that can have their own permissions. Hubs, usually created from communication sites, should also cover distinct units of work and bring together other related sites. You must be a SharePoint administrator to create a hub but a site owner can Associate a SharePoint site with a hub site.

Site audience

If you've already chosen what type of SharePoint site you want, you'll likely have a good idea of who your intended audience is. As we said earlier, there are two sites you can create in the modern SharePoint experience, a communication site or team site. Each of these sites are intended for unique audiences.

  • Communication sites are designed to broadcast messages, tell stories, share content, or showcase services or people. The audience typically consumes and views but doesn't edit the content, information, and news.

  • Team sites are designed to connect groups or teams with specific content, information, projects, and tools they need to collaborate. Site owners can specify other owners on the team to help manage the site, if needed.

Site permissions and sharing

Communication sites and team sites share the modern SharePoint experience but have key permission differences.

Communication sites have a small number of content authors and are not associated to an Office 365 group. Advanced permissions are available to communication sites through the Sharing or Site permissions panels. Communication sites, like traditional SharePoint sites, include three default SharePoint groups, Owners, Members, and Visitors.

Team sites are associated with an Office 365 group that has two user types, Owners and Members. SharePoint administrators can change whether team sites are non-group connected team sites. These Office 365 group users automatically have access to the team site and the rest of the group's applications. The owners have full control of the team site and members have editing but not site configuration permissions. Keep in mind that when you share a team site, you can invite users and security group to be members of the site. When you share the team site using Site permissions panel on the site, the new member isn't joined to the connected Office 365 group. You can however, invite a new member to the Office 365 group and they are automatically given member access to the team site.

When you store files and folders on a SharePoint site they are typically available to all users with permissions to the site but you can also share specific files and folders with people who don't have access to the site. For more information, see Share SharePoint files or folders and Share a site.

External sharing in SharePoint Online is a powerful collaboration feature that your company or organization can use with external vendors, customers, and clients. External sharing is turned on by default for SharePoint sites but anonymous sharing isn't allowed by default. External sharing is disabled by default for communication sites or any other type of SharePoint site except for team sites. Group-connected sites have external sharing enabled only if the Office 365 group allows for guests to be members. Only authenticated external sharing is available by default for new group-connected sites. Your organization may put restrictions on external sharing and this affects whether standalone team sites and communication sites have external sharing .

External sharing is controlled by global and SharePoint admins so organization settings override any site settings. If site owners don't see external sharing settings available they should check with the global or SharePoint admin to see if this is turned off. If external sharing is enabled in your organization that means it is enabled in all of SharePoint, OneDrive, and guests in groups.

Site branding

You should spend some time thinking about what your site will look like. For instance, you might need the site to match your company, organization, or team brand. You can easily Change the look of your SharePoint site to match an internal or external brand. Site owners can quickly and easily customize the site logo, colors, themes, and even navigation. For more information, see Customize your SharePoint site. Site designs can help site owners choose a template that aligns with the organization. If your SharePoint admin has enabled site designs, you can choose a design for your site that aligns with your organization. Your SharePoint admin may have customized a default site design, and if so, you can use this to make your site match your organization's design. For more information about branding modern SharePoint, see Branding SharePoint: The New Normal.

If you decide to connect your site, along with related sites, to a hub site, then branding and navigation are shared with the hub. Hub connected sites have a hub site navigation bar added to the top of the site. Also, the hub connected sites can share branding and other features from the hub.

Site content and navigation

Think about what type of content you want the site to have. Site content depends on the type of site you create. A team site contains information relevant to the group or team that uses the site. A communication site typically has a wide variety of information and is intended for specific audiences. SharePoint has site content features that you create to better serve the content on your site. These features include modern lists, libraries, pages, and web parts. Lists can be used for tracking sales, tasks, inventories, and issues. Libraries store documents and other files. Modern pages are quick ways to collaborate and share ideas using images, documents, videos, and web parts. Web parts are the building blocks for your modern SharePoint sites.

Good site navigation is perhaps the most important thing the site owner can do to have a successful SharePoint site. When site navigation is planned and designed correctly, users are able to quickly find what they need and this results in greater site satisfaction. Users are happy and the SharePoint site is working they way it should. For details about customizing site navigation, see Customize the navigation on your SharePoint site. A great place to learn more about how to plan site navigation is Navigation Fundamentals.

Site maintenance

Typically, communication sites only need a few contributors to maintain, several people own the different modern web apps and contribute accordingly to each. Team sites can share maintenance tasks with members of the group or team if needed. Site owners for both sites can assume full maintenance or assign page or section owners to maintain their portions of the site.

When an item is deleted from a SharePoint site, the site owner or any user with permissions to edit the item can restore it. For example, if an item from a document library or list is deleted, then a user that can edit this can also restore it. See Restore items in the Recycle Bin of a SharePoint site for more information.

See Also

Guide to the Modern experience in SharePoint

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